Is Chumby all grown up? Well, maybe we should be taking a step back: do you even know what Chumby is? The California company has been shipping hardware for nearly five years now, but they’re still very much under the radar — odds are pretty good you don’t have a Chumby, nor do you know anyone who does.

That said, they’ve managed to attract a following that’s far too large to ignore. Both Sony and Best Buy have felt strongly enough about the company’s platform to design and release their own Chumby-powered devices (in fact, Best Buy has released two). And I suspect that Chumby’s original model — a cute, bizarre, plush leather ball with Wi-Fi and a touchscreen LCD — is poised to reach collector’s item status now that it’s out of production.

But back to the point. To put it succinctly, the Chumby platform lets you configure slideshows of small, lightweight apps that convey information and entertain you: clocks, RSS readers, photos, simple games, and so-on. In turn, any Chumby-powered device can access those slideshows (called “channels” in Chumby parlance). At its core, the idea is to have an intelligent box on your nightstand or next to your computer that can serve up tiny chunks of information that you’re constantly looking for — and possibly replace your framed photos, your radio, and your alarm clock along the way.

The Sony Dash may be the most well-known of these units, but Chumby has also produced three commercial models of its own over the years. Of those, the $200 Chumby 8 is the latest and greatest (and, thanks to the 8-inch display, the largest). Let’s have a look.